Friday, January 11, 2008

Pop Culture Roundup

I was given A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly as a Christmas present, and started it this week. Kelly was a Quaker, and this book brings together several of his essays. The thought here is in some ways Schleiermachian, which only I might appreciate, but Kelly constantly hammers home the idea that one's pursuit of the spiritual life begins with an awareness of God's presence, and a sense that one is dependent upon that presence. Kelly also has a great essay about "holy obedience," part of which has made it into my sermon for this Sunday. It also made me more curious about what exactly Quakers believe. All I really know is that they started in Pennsylvania and like to sit around in silence a lot. But this book, if it is any representation, provided a lot of help in that area.

We saw Juno this past week, and both greatly enjoyed it. The title character is a tomboyish high schooler who finds out that she's pregnant after a one-off night with her best friend, Bleeker (played by Michael Cera with his trademark awkwardness). I had thought that this would focus on Juno's experience with her classmates and the general ups and downs of teenage pregnancy, but this movie takes a different tact by focusing more on relationships. In fact, in some ways the pregnancy is more a starting point than the centerpiece. The way they're able to do this is by having Juno immediately decide to carry the baby for an adoptive couple, played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner. Garner's character is really the one who keeps reminding us that this is all because Juno is pregnant, and she portrays past disappointment and hopeful expectation and dedication so wonderfully that by the end one can feel what she's feeling. Bateman's character is the kind of dad that I want to be until about the last 20 minutes, but one can kind of sense that we're going to end up someplace close to where we do with him. One other thing: the soundtrack is silly. Not bad silly, just silly.

We also watched Employee of the Month this week, which at times tries to be Office Space set in a Sam's Club-type store and at other times wants us to believe that anyone who works in retail takes their job as seriously as some of these characters do. During my stint at Wal-Mart I could count them on one hand. And there were no long lines of hot women watching cashiers do tricks while checking out their purchases. Dumb.

This past week was the season premiere of L.A. Ink, and the commercials pulled a fast one. In the ads, Kat is prominently featured saying, "I'm pregnant" and then her co-workers supposedly reacting in awe and happiness. But in the actual episode, we found out that she was joking and those pieced-together reactions are really to other things. Good one, TLC. Besides that, Kat has some employee issues. One of her artists takes a trip back to Chicago and discovers how homesick she is, and another took a trip or didn't take a trip or something and for some reason Kat is mad about it...I only partially paid attention to that. But anyway, Kat now has to decide whether or not to fire her best friend because of it.

I rediscovered my Gomez CD the other week. Why don't I have more of their stuff?

Around the web, I'm thinking of doing what Sarcastic Lutheran is doing, and if/when I do I'll pray a similar prayer.